Previously on Downton Abbey: Evelyn came back with his rather rude boss, Isobel and Violet went to war (and Violet won, naturally), Edith’s knocked up, and Anna’s still dealing with her trauma.
We begin as the series started, with a telegram being delivered to the house. Apparently it’s summoning Robert to America, which Bates reports to Hughes. She asks if he’s going along as well but he tells her he can’t leave Anna just now.
In their bedroom, Robert’s ranting about this summons, which apparently came from his mother-in-law. Seems Harold’s going to have to appear before a Senate committee, and the relatives think having an English earl there as a supporter will make him seem less shady, which is actually a pretty canny move because yes, it actually will. Robert whines a bit, but knows he has to go.
Hughes has taken the Bates question to Mary, who tells her that Bates is a valet and therefore has to go where his master goes. Hughes says this is a special circumstance, but Mary won’t lend a hand unless she gets the full story.
Belowstairs, Bates promises not to go. Anna says he’ll probably get fired and should go get packing. She leaves him and bursts into tears.
Back upstairs, Robert’s now peeved that Mary’s asking him to take Thomas instead of Bates with him, whining ridiculously that Americans have a different outfit for every activity. Unlike the English aristocracy, Robert? Come the hell on. Mary’s sure Thomas would be happy to go, if for no other reason than to ogle handsome sailors on the ship. Robert, slightly shocked, asks how she knows such things. ‘I’ve been married, I know everything,’ she replies, getting the first genuine laugh out of me this character’s ever managed. That also gives a whole new spin to Matthew’s ‘My eyes have been opened,’ line right after he returned from his honeymoon. Bates comes in and Robert shortly informs him that he’s staying behind and Thomas is going instead. He heads out for breakfast and Bates confirms that Mary knows the same story he does. She reassures him that this is not his fault.
Violet arrives to wish Robert good luck on his trip and is met by Rose, who informs her that everyone is in the library, save Robert himself, who’s upstairs getting ready. Violet asks Carson for a glass of water before going into the library, where she finds Edith, Napier, Blake, and Tom chatting about the pigs. Violet asks Blake if the pigs are a good idea and he agrees that it’s always good for estates to diversify. He’s not sure the Downton folk know what they’re taking on. In comes Isobel, along with Violet’s water. Violet admits to feeling a bit warmish.
Thomas is packing in the company of Jimmy, who complains about having wasted so much time and money on Ivy, because he’s a dick. Thomas says he hopes to find Jimmy happy, healthy, and dating some girl from the village when he gets back.
Cora wishes her husband well on his trip, and they walk out hand in hand so he can bid everyone else farewell. He actually spares a moment for Edith again, telling her to keep her chin up and offering to send a detective, again. She says there’s no point, since Michael’s firm’s already done so, and he says to ask Cora for whatever she needs. Wow, that was actually quite sweet of him. Turns out he can be a good dad after all. He kisses Violet goodbye and she urges him not to let the Yankees drive him mad, before she begins coughing a bit. Robert wishes Mary well with the pigs, leaves Rose in charge of fun, and tells Tom to take care of all his womenfolk, especially Isis. Hee! Thomas tells Baxter to find out exactly why Bates stayed behind, while he’s away. Off they go on their American journey. Violet’s relieved, because she says she’s feeling ill, and she didn’t want Robert to notice. She desperately asks Carson for the car to take her home.
Inside, Mary asks Blake if it’s just lack of money that’s making all these estates fail. He says that’s a big part of it, and the fact that the owners aren’t making the most of what the estates have to offer. They aren’t ready to think about income or adjust their way of life. Mary can’t understand why they would need to, which really indicates how far she still has to go before she’s ready to take command here. Mary, if you have half the income you had before, you can’t keep spending at the same rate. I know maths weren’t really a big part of girls’ education in her day, but you’d think you could grasp that basic fact. Evelyn joins them and Mary sniffs that Blake was just telling her how he found people like her and Evelyn infuriating, which isn’t what he said at all. Blake tells Evelyn they need to get on the road.
Tom drives Isobel home and she asks him what ever happened to his political aspirations. He claims they vanished, but she doesn’t believe him and tells him there’s a man named Ward coming to speak at Ripon. She invites him to come along with her, and though he refuses at first, it looks like it may be a date of sorts.
Edith goes to talk to her mother about Michael, who apparently checked into his hotel just fine, then went out the first evening and never returned. Cora doesn’t think this makes any sense, because nobody ever attacks a tourist. She hugs her daughter and urges her to go to London for a bit. Edith tearfully asks her mother if she thinks she’s a bad person and Cora says no, of course not. Edith admits she sometimes has bad feelings, and Cora says everyone does, but it’s acting on them that makes one truly bad.
Downstairs, Carson tells Patmore he’s received a letter from Alfred, and things seem to be going well for him. Daisy asks if he mentions any of them. Alfred writes that he’s coming up to see his sick father and hopes to look in on them. Ivy seems happy to hear that, which brings out Daisy’s catty side, but Patmore tells her to calm down, because they’ll all be happy to see him.
Back upstairs, Rose asks Cora for permission to join Edith in London. Cora tells her that she only has to wait a few more months for the Season, but Rose begs, because she wants to see some friends and thinks she could cheer Edith up.
On a walk in the grounds, Mary asks why Blake has to be such a dick all the time. Evelyn says it’s kind of frustrating watching people act like idiots, sitting by while their family inheritances are carted away, bit by bit. Apparently Blake doubts that Mary would fight for Downton if it came to it, because she’s rather aloof. She takes offense at that and asks if Evelyn agrees. He doesn’t, but that’s because he’s got a blind spot when it comes to her. She seems pleased to hear that.
Over tea, the servants gossip about Robert’s impending sailing, and Molesley asks Baxter what Thomas is hoping for her to report back on. She tells him to mind his own business.
At the dower house, Violet’s in bed, and not sounding too good. Isobel comes in, jabbering away about having had this sudden desire to come over and check on her, not even noticing, for the longest time, that this woman is doing really poorly. She finally realizes Violet has a fever and tells her she’s going to fetch Clarkson. Violet tells her not to fuss, but Isobel won’t have it.
Mary’s getting ready for bed, complaining about Blake to Anna. She repeats the aloof comment and asks Anna what she thinks. Anna essentially tells her that he’s totally right. Anna then thanks her for arranging for Bates to stay. She also knows that Mary knows about the attack, though like Bates Mary’s been led to believe it was some stranger who broke in. Mary asks if there’s any way they can find out who it was and Anna says no. Mary pushes a tiny bit, urging Anna to see Clarkson and to talk about it, give a description, anything. She earnestly tells Anna she wants to help her, but Anna says she can’t talk about this with anyone.
Carson reports to Hughes and Patmore that he’s ready to turn in. Before he does, Patmore admits that she’s a bit worried about Alfred coming back so soon, when the issues with Daisy and Ivy are still so very present and raw. Hughes asks if he can put Alfred off, just this once. He doesn’t have his parents’ address, so no.
Clarkson diagnoses bronchitis, and tells Isobel that his nurses are super busy. Isobel readily offers to be the nurse.
The next morning, Jimmy once again tries hitting on Ivy, who once again tells him to shove it. Carson murmurs to Hughes that Alfred’s coming for tea that day, and he’ll see what he can do to get rid of him. Hughes suggests he put the word about that there’s flu in the house and Alfred won’t want to get sick and miss his lessons.
Cora and Mary have gone to the dower house, where they’re alarmed to see Violet so ill. Isobel’s flittering about, back in her element. Violet complains about her medicine.
Carson hustles Alfred to the pub, where he’s booked him a room overnight. He offers to stop in for a drink before sending Alfred off to bed.
In the Downton kitchens, the girls gossip about why Alfred isn’t staying at the house. Daisy nastily says it’s because of Ivy, using some choice words to describe her, and Hughes tells her to be quiet, adding to Patmore that it was best to keep Alfred away from the house.
At Violet’s, Clarkson checks in and tells Isobel she needs to be super vigilant that night and make sure Violet’s fever doesn’t get any higher. She promises to watch carefully and ring him if there’s any change.
Branson announces to Mary and Cora that the pigs have arrived. Cora informs Tom that Isobel can’t go to the MP’s speech in Ripon, and he’s not too upset about missing it, but Mary urges him to go.
Rose, Rosamond, and Edith stroll the streets of London, Rosamond quizzing Rose on her plans. They finally let Rose go and Rosamond asks Edith to tell her what’s up. They head inside and Edith only tells her that she’ll be away the following night, and could Rosamond please not tell her mother about this? Rosamond’s understandably unwilling to lie on so little detail. Edith bursts into tears and Rosamond goes to sweetly comfort her.
Rose, meanwhile, is enjoying a romantic boat ride with Jack, because that won’t incite any gossip at all. They park under a bridge and she pouts that she worries he’ll forget about her. He promises he won’t forget her, but he knows this relationship has no future. She urges him to just enjoy this while they have it. She asks him to take her out to the club that night, and to kiss her, not in that order. He obliges on both fronts.
Edith has spilled her guts to auntie and admits she’s not sure what she’s more scared of: parenthood or what may have happened to Michael. She’s decided to have an abortion, and Rosamond promises to support her whatever she does, though it’s clear the notion of both an illegitimate child and a termination are somewhat horrifying to her. And admittedly, abortions in the early 1920s were scary as hell, even if you had the money to pay for a good doctor. They were illegal, so it was hard to get good medical care. She asks Edith what she’ll tell Michael, if he comes back and Edith says she plans to say nothing. Rosamond tells her that, if she goes ahead and does that and marries him, their whole lives will be based on a lie. She asks Edith if she’s really thought about this and Edith, a little angrily, says she most certainly has. Rosamond, looking a bit teary, asks Edith how she found a place willing to do this and Edith says she found an ad in a ladies’ magazine in the waiting room at King’s Cross. Woah, Edith! Yeah, that sounds totally legit. Rosamond tells Edith she’s coming along, to support her. Aww, Rosamond’s totally my favourite older generation Crawley.
Blake joins Cora and Mary for dinner—Evelyn’s out, as is Tom. He asks if the pigs arrived and Mary says they did. He asks to go see them after dinner and asks Mary to come along. She agrees.
Tom arrives at the speech and asks a woman if a seat beside her is free. She says she’s holding it for a friend. The MP shows up and the woman gestures to Tom to take the seat. So, was she lying just now? How odd. The MP’s a bit of a dick and makes a spectacle of it, as Tom quickly plops down next to her. The speech finally begins, and Tom objects to the guy’s second sentence, then asks the woman what happened to her friend. She says it just seemed silly to keep the char empty. Especially when a hot Irishman asks for it.
Blake and Mary check out the pigs, while Mary drones a bit about how they plan to learn from these. Blake notes one little piggy practically dead from dehydration, and also sees that the pigs kicked over the water trough. That seems rather silly of them. He strips off his dinner jacket, grabs some buckets, and goes to fetch water. Mary, in her evening clothes, picks up two buckets and joins in.
Tom and Chairlady chat a bit after the speech. She asks about why he left Ireland and he says it’s a long story. He thanks her for the seat and hustles away.
Violet wakes in the night, feverish and talking nonsense, and Isobel reassures her.
Mary and Blake slop through the mud, fetching water. Mary topples over right on her ass and glares at Blake, like this is his fault. Hey, he didn’t kick over the trough, Mary. This man’s trying to rescue your investment.
And back at the house, Carson and Hughes are relaxing with books, which is an amusing juxtaposition to the last scene. Hughes compliments Carson on heading off Alfred and they wonder what’s taking Mary and Blake so long. She suggests he leave the front door unlocked so they can get back in. He asks if they’re not worried about burglars and she rolls her eyes and nonsensically tells him that this is England. Where…there are no burglars? What a strange thing to say.
Mary and Blake have managed to rescue the pigs. He suggests she go back to the house, now things are back in hand, while he watches a little longer. She decides to stay, and then wonders what a fright she must be. He gently teases her and she drily laughs along. He picks up some mud and flings it at her, so she returns the favour, smearing a handful right across his face.
Rose returns home late at night and goes into Edith’s room. Edith asks where she’s been and Rose blissfully says she’s been having the most wonderful time. She then asks if Rosamond’s angry and Edith sighs and asks why Rose can’t just fit in for once. A strange thing for Edith, of all people, to be saying. She tells Rose to just go to bed.
Back at Downton, Mary cooks up some scrambled eggs in the kitchen for herself and Blake. Since when can Mary cook? Was she not the woman basically mocking Edith for suggesting they learn such practical skills last season? Then again, knowing Mary, she just likes having an excuse to be a total bitch to Edith. Blake’s surprised she can do such a thing and she admits that scrambling eggs is the limit of her culinary abilities. They each take a sip of wine, and is it just me, or does this whole thing have shades of the scene in the dining room in series one where she and Matthew first kissed? This relationship seems to be shaping up pretty much the same way, too. She says she’s surprised to learn he’s a practical farmer as well as a government flunky, and he says it’s surprising to learn that she can cook eggs and carry water. Mary wonders what the servants and everyone thought they were up to, gone all that time, and he jokes that they just think they went for a walk and vanished. A bit of a poor joke, considering what seems to have happened to Michael. While they’re enjoying their eggs, Ivy comes in and does a double take, then apologises. Mary decides this is a sign to go up to bed, since now the servants are starting to get up, and she and Blake head out.
Rosamond and Edith arrive at the place, and Rosamond admits she doesn’t like the look of it. She rings nonetheless and they’re ushered into a waiting room. Rosamond takes a minute to fiercely tell the receptionist that this doctor had better be legit. Edith tells her aunt she doesn’t have to stay and Rosamond says she’s definitely staying, before offering Edith a glass of water. Edith declines, then says she loves Michael and would have loved his baby, but she can’t really see what other options she has. Rosamond’s a champion supporter here and offers no judgment, just soothing ‘I know,’ noises. Edith shakily says she doesn’t think she’ll be able to go into the nursery and see Mary’s and Tom’s babies, possibly ever. They hear a woman weeping in an adjoining room, and Edith peeks inside. All we see is the doctor talking to someone, but it scares Edith enough that she tells the receptionist that there’s been a mistake and she’s not going through with it. Can’t say I’m surprised by that. The only times I’ve ever seen characters on a popular TV show actually go through with an abortion were on Grey’s Anatomy and HBO shows, which aren’t generally afraid to tackle hot-button issues. I am slightly disturbed by the possible connection between this and Cora’s comment about not acting on bad thoughts, though, but maybe I’m overthinking it.
Back at Rosamond’s, Edith’s packing to go home, while Rose whines and whines about having to go back early. She swirls out and Rosamond offers to be present when Edith tells Cora, if she needs her. Rosamond tells Edith she’s sure there’s a way forward for her here. Seriously, Rosamond’s the best.
Mary arrives in the library, where Blake’s filled everyone in on their little adventure the night before. Cora comes in and delightedly tells Mary that Gill’s stopping by and staying the night, on his way to some other destination. Mary does not seem pleased. Blake recognizes the name, because they served together and fought at Jutland. Mary slips out and Evelyn follows, cheerfully telling her that she’s impressed Blake, so now he’s got a bit of competition, he thinks.
Alfred arrives at the kitchens to say hi to everyone, which does not please Patmore or Hughes. Ivy tells him they’re delighted to see him, though Jimmy, being a jerk and a half, says that’s not entirely true. Everyone’s confused about this flu claim, and Patmore and Hughes lie poorly that they think they’re coming down with it. Patmore tries to hustle Alfred out, but he turns back, just as Carson comes in and seems alarmed to see him there. He pulls Hughes and Patmore out to complain about having to pay for the pub for nothing, but Patmore tells him to just let it go. In the kitchen, Alfred, on his way out, tells Ivy she’s given him something to think about, and he certainly will.
Violet’s much better, and asking for toast. Isobel’s so delighted she rushes out to fetch it herself. Violet’s memories of the past few days are shaky, and she thinks there was a regular nurse there, but Clarkson sets her straight and tells her that, although her family offered to help out, Isobel took it all on herself. Isobel returns with news that tea and toast are on their way. Clarkson suggests she go home and get a bit of rest. Isobel agrees, but says she thinks she’ll come back that evening. Violet tells her that would be fine. Once Isobel leaves, Clarkson tells Violet she’ll have her reward in heaven. ‘The sooner the better,’ she mumbles. Heh.
Oh, Jesus. Who comes strolling into the servants’ hall but Green the rapist, who I can’t even come up with a coherent nickname for that adequately describes my loathing. Feel free to suggest one in the comments. The others are happy to see him, but Hughes absolutely shoots death lasers out of her eyes at the man, because she, like Rosamond, is awesome. And then Anna comes in, catches sight of him, and blanches. This does not go unnoticed by Hughes or Bates, and after Anna hustles out of there, Hughes follows.
Mary’s heading downstairs when she runs into Gill, who apologises for just showing up, and admits that he misses her. She pointedly asks after his fiancée and he can’t really bring himself to answer. He asks after Blake and somewhat playfully urges her not to start preferring Blake to him. She promises that won’t happen and tells him a bit about the pig adventure as they head into the library. Gill and Blake exchange pleasantries and catch up, while nearby Tom conversationally asks Edith if she got everything done that she needed to in London. Edith, the world’s worst poker face, is like, ‘why, what have you heard? Whatever you’ve heard, it’s not true!’ and he backs down, confused.
Blake more fully fills Gill in on the pig adventure, and Gill asks what the chances are of Downton surviving. Blake thinks they’re good, especially if Mary and the others give it all they’ve got. Gill tells him that, if Mary gives all she’s got, that’s quite a bit.
Hughes finds Green in the boot room and tells him she knows exactly what he’s done. She warns him to stick to the shadows while he’s there, if he values his life. He tries to claim that the whole thing was consensual, but Hughes, of course, knows much better. He asks if Bates knows and she says he doesn’t. He thanks her and she fiercely tells him she hasn’t kept silent for his sake.
Isobel and Violet are playing gin, and Violet’s either finding a whole new delight in the game, or she’s putting on a hell of a good show for Isobel’s sake. And by the way, nobody says ‘Goody, goody,’ like Maggie Smith.
The servants sit down for dinner, and Anna’s rather cruelly sat right across from Green. Someone brings up Dame Nellie’s performance, and Green does exactly the opposite of what Hughes warned him to do and slags off the performance before admitting that he came downstairs during it for a bit of peace and quiet. He’s just dying to get throttled to death, isn’t he? Anna and Hughes look at each other, slightly horrified, and Baxter takes it all in. After a moment, everything clearly falls into place for Bates and it’s his turn to turn on the laser eyes.
Stupid Robert Moment: Complaining about possibly having to change clothes too frequently in the United States. This from a man brought up in a world where people regularly changed at least four times in a single day, and that doesn’t even count special outfits for sports and things. Oh, Robert.